Birth Fight

by Ramesh Ponnuru

On Tuesday NRO reprinted my 2006 article on birthright citizenship. (I have further thoughts at the issue in the Washington Post.) Many readers objected to my argument that conservatives should not campaign to change the policy. A common theme in the emails was that neither the difficulty of changing the policy nor the political downsides of trying ought to sway conservatives, because it is the right thing to do. I cannot agree. Even if we assume that abolishing birthright citizenship is the right thing to do, which is not at all clear to me, it seems to me that there is wisdom–not exclusively conservative wisdom, to be sure, but wisdom connected to conservatism–in picking our battles and getting our means and our ends in alignment.